I left UMASS Dartmouth late on Friday to get back home. I had plans to go to the Deval Patrick rally on Saturday with my mother, who is the type of person who has never been involved in politics before, but is excited at the prospect. With little sleep, I got up Saturday and tried to rush my slow-poke Mom out the door and we got a late start. The rally started at around noon, doors opened at 11:30... I reserved tickets for the event, but there seemed to be no limit to the amount of tickets printed, while the chambers inside Fanuel Hall aren't enormous. There were way more tickets - and people - than room to attend the indoor portion of the rally. Suffice it to say, I got in, but just barely. I was one of the last 15 people to walk through that door and an angry police officer seemed determined to keep us out!
Sadly, hundreds of people were turned away. I was lucky. Still, though, Deval Patrick was nice enough to give a speech outside first - as well as have huge television screens stationed outside for the crowd. The excitement for Deval Patrick is precisely why I think he can win. In the middle of winter, Deval Patrick convinced over a thousand people to come and hear him speak (he claimed 2,000; the Globe said hundreds... it's always something in between and my guess at the time - about 1,200-1,500 - seems as rational now as it did then). How many people can do that? Reilly may be leading in the polls, but would over a thousand people come out to see him right now? Would they have even known about the event (Deval is running a great grassroots campaign... which is why I found out about the event in the first place).
Reilly's support comes from his name recognition and money. He is one of the few Democrats elected to a statewide position - an important one at that. He has both name recognition from his position, as well as a political machine to help him win elections. Whether he is old Beacon Hill politics or not, that's the impression he gives. There's no excitement there. Reilly has no buzz. He has money and more name recognition, but if Deval Patrick's support is more enthusiastic, by the end of this primary race Deval will have the money and name recognition too.
Deval touched on this subject, briefly, during the rally. It may have been Reilly's turn to run, but it's Deval Patrick's time. Deval could have waited, he could have picked a lesser position to run for and counted the years until it was his turn to play Governor. He could have, but he didn't. Whether the state democratic party establishment was happy about it or not, Deval Patrick ran.
He's everything progressives in this state could possibly hope for. Most importantly, he can win. He creates excitement among democrats in this state that I've never seen before. Scott Harshberger didn't have it. Shannon O'Brien didn't have it. Reilly definately doesn't have it. Deval Patrick has a lot of things working against him, yet he still polls higher than Kerry Healey does at this point (according to today's Sunday Boston Globe). The gap between Reilly and Patrick, once large, is already small. Soon it will be nonexistent.
I'm the type of person who is pragmatic first. I want to do what's best for this country and state. Occasionally, that means supporting the lesser of two evils if that means that in doing so, you'll get a victory. However, in this case the people of Massachusetts have a great opportunity. For once, and I really believe this, picking the better of the two will present this state with the best chance to win. There are many reasons why Scott Harshberger and Shannon O'Brien lost their races, but here's what I think is the biggest: I challenge anyone to see how much Harshberger and O'Brien supporters really cared about Harshberger and O'Brien. It's one thing to support a candidate, it's quite another to really get behind them.
One of the speakers at the rally was U.S. Congressman Jim McGovern. When Deval went up to speak, he thanked Jim in particular. However, when he thanked McGovern, he didn't just thank him for the support. Deval thanked Jim for the early support. Deval Patrick is still in this race because of his ability to convince people that yes, he had a chance, when every poll months ago indicated otherwise. He created excitement then and has a real race now. If yesterday's rally and previous elections can teach us anything, it's that hollow support is not enough to beat Republicans in Massachusetts. Every vote needs a foundation - every campaign needs college students willing to drive home late at night to see a rally in Boston, needs mothers who have never been to a political rally before - if it's going to be victorious. Deval Patrick may have less money and less name recognition, but he has a lot of charisma behind his campaign and a great grassroots organization to employ it.